In viral pandemics, most specifically Covid-19, many patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs), including phaeochromocytomas, paragangliomas and medullary thyroid carcinoma, may develop Covid-19 in a mild or severe form, or be concerned about the influence of viral infection relative to their anti-tumoral therapy. In general, newly presenting patients should be assessed, and patients recently receiving chemotherapy, targeted therapy or radionuclide therapy, or showing tumour growth, should be closely followed. For previously diagnosed patients, who have indolent disease, some delay in routine follow-up or treatment may not be problematic. However, patients developing acute secretory syndromes due to functional neuroendocrine neoplasms (such as of the pancreas, intestine or lung), phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas, will require prompt treatment. Patients with life-threatening Covid-19-related symptoms should be urgently treated and long-term anti-tumoral treatments may be temporarily delayed. In patients with especially aggressive NENs, a careful judgement should be made regarding the severity of any Covid-19 illness, tumour grade, and the immunosuppressant effects of any planned chemotherapy, immunotherapy (e.g. interferon-alpha), targeted therapy or related treatment. In other cases, especially patients with completely resected NENs, or who are under surveillance for a genetic disorder, a telephone or delayed consultation may be in order, balancing the risk of a delay against that of the possible development of Covid-19.
Ruth T Casey, Gerlof D Valk, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Ashley B Grossman, and Rajesh V Thakker
Shakila Thangaratinam, Shamil D Cooray, Nithya Sukumar, Mohammed S B Huda, Roland Devlieger, Katrien Benhalima, Fionnuala McAuliffe, Ponnusamy Saravanan, and Helena J Teede
The COVID-19 pandemic has required rapid transformation and adaptation of healthcare services. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are one of the largest high-risk groups accessing antenatal care. In reformulating the care offered to those with GDM, there is a need to balance the sometimes competing requirement of lowering the risk of direct viral transmission against the potential adverse impact of service changes. We suggest pragmatic options for screening of GDM in a pandemic setting based on blood tests, and risk calculators applied to underlying risk factors. Alternative models for antenatal care provision for women with GDM, including targeting high-risk groups, early lifestyle interventions and remote monitoring are provided. Testing options and their timing for postpartum screening in women who had GDM are also considered. Our suggestions are only applicable in a pandemic scenario, and usual guidelines and care pathways should be re-implemented as soon as possible and appropriate.
Neil J Gittoes, Sherwin Criseno, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Jens Bollerslev, Ernesto Canalis, Lars Rejnmark, and Zaki Hassan-Smith
Endocrinologists have had to make rapid changes to services so that resources can be focused on the COVID-19 response to help prevent spread of the virus. Herein we provide pragmatic advice on the management of commonly encountered calcium metabolic problems and osteoporosis. Non-urgent elective appointments should be postponed, and remote consultations and digital health solutions promoted. Patients should be empowered to self-manage their conditions safely. Patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers should be directed to assured national or international online resources and specific patient groups. For patients in acute hospital settings, existing emergency guidance on the management of hyper- and hypo-calcaemia should be followed. An approach to osteoporosis management is outlined. IV zoledronic acid infusions can be delayed for 6–9 months during the pandemic. Patients established on denosumab, teriparatide and abaloparatide should continue planned therapy. In the event of supply issues with teriparatide or abaloparatide, pausing this treatment in the short term is likely to be relatively harmless, whereas delaying denosumab may cause an immediate increased risk of fracture. The challenge of this pandemic will act as a catalyst to innovate within our management of metabolic bone and mineral disorders to ensure best use of resources and resilience of healthcare systems in its aftermath.
Deborah J Wake, Fraser W Gibb, Partha Kar, Brian Kennon, David C Klonoff, Gerry Rayman, Martin K Rutter, Chris Sainsbury, and Robert K Semple
The COVID-19 pandemic is a major international emergency leading to unprecedented medical, economic and societal challenges. Countries around the globe are facing challenges with diabetes care and are similarly adapting care delivery, with local cultural nuances. People with diabetes suffer disproportionately from acute COVID-19 with higher rates of serious complications and death. In-patient services need specialist support to appropriately manage glycaemia in people with known and undiagnosed diabetes presenting with COVID-19. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, people with diabetes may suffer longer-term harm caused by inadequate clinical support and less frequent monitoring of their condition and diabetes-related complications. Outpatient management need to be reorganised to maintain remote advice and support services, focusing on proactive care for the highest risk, and using telehealth and digital services for consultations, self-management and remote monitoring, where appropriate. Stratification of patients for face-to-face or remote follow-up should be based on a balanced risk assessment. Public health and national organisations have generally responded rapidly with guidance on care management, but the pandemic has created a tension around prioritisation of communicable vs non-communicable disease. Resulting challenges in clinical decision-making are compounded by a reduced clinical workforce. For many years, increasing diabetes mellitus incidence has been mirrored by rising preventable morbidity and mortality due to complications, yet innovation in service delivery has been slow. While the current focus is on limiting the terrible harm caused by the pandemic, it is possible that a positive lasting legacy of COVID-19 might include accelerated innovation in chronic disease management.
Stefan M Constantinescu, Natacha Driessens, Aurélie Lefebvre, Raluca M Furnica, Bernard Corvilain, and Dominique Maiter
Intravenous etomidate infusion is effective to rapidly lower cortisol levels in severe Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in the intensive care unit (ICU). Recently, etomidate treatment has also been proposed at lower doses in non-ICU wards, but it is not yet clear how this approach compares to ICU treatment.
We compared data from patients with severe CS treated with high starting doses of etomidate (median: 0.30 mg/kg BW/day) in ICU or with lower starting doses (median: 0.025 mg/kg BW/day) in non-ICU medical wards.
Fourteen patients were included, among which ten were treated with low starting doses (LD) and four with high starting doses etomidate (HD). All patients had severe and complicated CS related to adrenal carcinoma (n = 8) or ectopic ACTH secretion (n = 6). Etomidate was effective in reducing cortisol levels below 500 nmol/L in a median of 1 day in the HD group compared to 3 days in the LD group (P = 0.013). However, all patients of the HD group had etomidate-induced cortisol insufficiency and needed frequent monitoring, while no patient from the LD group required hydrocortisone supplementation. No patient in either group died from complications of CS or etomidate treatment, but final outcome was poor as six patients in the LD group and all four patients in the HD group died from their cancer during follow-up.
Our study suggests that, for patients with severe CS who do not require intensive organ-supporting therapy, the use of very low doses of etomidate in medical wards should be considered.
Daniel G Bichet
For an endocrinologist, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) is an end-organ disease, that is the antidiuretic hormone, arginine-vasopressin (AVP) is normally produced but not recognized by the kidney with an inability to concentrate urine despite elevated plasma concentrations of AVP. Polyuria with hyposthenuria and polydipsia are the cardinal clinical manifestations of the disease. For a geneticist, hereditary NDI is a rare disease with a prevalence of five per million males secondary to loss of function of the vasopressin V2 receptor, an X-linked gene, or loss of function of the water channel AQP2. These are small genes, easily sequenced, with a number of both recurrent and private mutations described as disease causing. Other inherited disorders with mild, moderate or severe inability to concentrate urine include Bartter’s syndrome and cystinosis. MAGED2 mutations are responsible for a transient form of Bartter’s syndrome with severe polyhydramnios. The purpose of this review is to describe classical phenotype findings that will help physicians to identify early, before dehydration episodes with hypernatremia, patients with familial NDI. A number of patients are still diagnosed late with repeated dehydration episodes and large dilations of the urinary tract leading to a flow obstructive nephropathy with progressive deterioration of glomerular function. Families with ancestral X-linked AVPR2 mutations could be reconstructed and all female heterozygote patients identified with subsequent perinatal genetic testing to recognize affected males within 2 weeks of birth. Prevention of dehydration episodes is of critical importance in early life and beyond and decreasing solute intake will diminish total urine output.
Mariacarolina Salerno, Nicola Improda, and Donatella Capalbo
Subclinical hypothyroidism (SH) is biochemically defined as serum TSH levels above the upper limit of the reference range in the presence of normal free T4 (FT4) concentrations. While there is a general agreement to treat subjects with serum TSH levels above 10 mU/L, the management of mild form (TSH concentrations between 4.5 and 10 mU/L) is still a matter of debate. In children, mild SH is often a benign and remitting condition and the risk of progression to overt thyroid dysfunction depends on the underlying condition, being higher in the autoimmune forms. The major concern is to establish whether SH in children should always be considered an expression of mild thyroid dysfunction and may deserve treatment. Current data indicate that children with mild SH have normal linear growth, bone health and intellectual outcome. However, slight metabolic abnormalities and subtle deficits in specific cognitive domains have been reported in children with modest elevation of TSH concentration. Although these findings are not sufficient to recommend levothyroxine treatment for all children with mild SH, they indicate the need for regular monitoring to ensure early identification of children who may benefit from treatment. In the meanwhile, the decision to initiate therapy in children with mild SH should be based on individual factors.
Victoria S Sprung, Kelly A Bowden Davies, Juliette A Norman, Andrew Thompson, Katie L Mitchell, John P H Wilding, Graham J Kemp, and Daniel J Cuthbertson
Data suggest that metabolic health status, incorporating components of metabolic syndrome (MetS), predicts cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk better than BMI. This study explored the association of MetS and obesity with endothelial function, a prognostic risk factor for incident CVD.
Forty-four participants were phenotyped according to BMI as non-obese vs obese (<30 or >30 kg/m2) and according to the International Diabetes Federation criteria of MetS: ≤2 criteria MetS (MetS−) vs ≥3 criteria MetS (MetS+); (1.)non-obese MetS− vs (2.) non-obese MetS+ and (3.) obese MetS− vs (4.) obese MetS+. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD), body composition including liver fat (MRI and spectroscopy), dietary intake, intensities of habitual physical activity and cardio-respiratory fitness were determined. Variables were analysed using a one-factor between-groups ANOVA and linear regression; mean (95% CI) are presented.
Individuals with MetS+ displayed lower FMD than those with MetS−. For non-obese individuals mean difference between MetS+ and MetS− was 4.1% ((1.0, 7.3); P = 0.004) and obese individuals had a mean difference between MetS+ and MetS− of 6.2% ((3.1, 9.2); P < 0.001). Although there was no association between BMI and FMD (P = 0.27), an increased number of MetS components was associated with a lower FMD (P = 0.005), and after adjustment for age and sex, 19.7% of the variance of FMD was explained by MetS, whereas only 1.1% was explained by BMI.
In this study cohort, components of MetS, rather than obesity per se, contribute to reduced FMD, which suggests a reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide and thus increased risk of CVD.
Friso de Vries, Mees Bruin, Angelica Cersosimo, Charlotte N van Beuzekom, S Faisal Ahmed, Robin P Peeters, Nienke R Biermasz, Olaf Hiort, and Alberto M Pereira
Given that volumes of patients and interventions are important criteria to qualify as a reference centre (RC) for the European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN), the present study aimed to evaluate the data that were reported in the original application against subsequent assessments of activity and review the criteria that may define RCs using two main thematic groups (MTGs): Pituitary and Thyroid, as examples.
Review of content in application forms and continuous monitoring data and of a survey distributed to RCs. A list of ‘key procedures’ for the assessment of performance of RCs was composed with the help of the Pituitary and Thyroid MTG chairs.
In the original application, the number of undefined procedures ranged from 20 to 5500/year (Pituitary) and from 10 to 2700/year (phyroid) between applicants. In the survey, the number of key procedures per centre ranged from 18 to 150/year (Pituitary) and from 20 to 1376/year (Thyroid). The median numbers of new patients reported in the continuous monitoring program were comparable with the application and survey; however, some centres reported large variations.
Monitoring of clinical activity in an ERN requires clear definitions that are optimally aligned with clinical practice, diagnosis registration, and hospital IT systems. This is a particular challenge in the rare disease field where the centre may also provide expert input in collaboration with local hospitals. Application of uniform definitions, in addition to condition-specific clinical benchmarks, which can include patient-reported- as well as clinician-reported outcome measures, is urgently needed to allow benchmarking of care across Endo-ERN.
Ivona Lončar, Roderick R Dulfer, Elske T Massolt, Reinier Timman, Yolanda B de Rijke, Gaston J H Franssen, Pim J W A Burger, Casper Smit, Frans A L van der Horst, Robin P Peeters, Casper H J van Eijck, and Tessa M van Ginhoven
Hypoparathyroidism is a common complication after thyroidectomy. It is not yet possible to predict in which patients hypoparathyroidism will persist. We aim to determine whether a decrease in PTH levels, measured at the first postoperative day, can identify patients with a high risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after thyroidectomy.
Prospective multi-center cohort study.
Patients undergoing total or completion thyroidectomy were included. We measured PTH levels preoperatively and on the first postoperative day. Primary outcome is the proportion of patients with persistent hypoparathyroidism, defined as the need for calcium supplementation one year after surgery.
We included 110 patients of which 81 were used for analysis of the primary outcome. At discharge 72.8% of patients were treated with calcium supplementation. Persistent hypoparathyroidism was present in 14 patients (17.3%) at one-year follow-up, all of them had a decrease in PTH >70% at the first postoperative day. These 14 were 43.8% of the 32 patients who had such a decrease. In the group of 49 patients (59.8%) without a PTH >70% decrease, none had persistent hypoparathyroidism one year after surgery (P-value <0.001). A decrease of >70% in PTH levels had a sensitivity of 100.0% (95% CI: 85.8–100.0%), a specificity of 73.1% (95% CI: 62.5–83.7%) and an area under the curve of 0.87 (95% CI: 0.79–0.94) to predict the risk for persistent hypoparathyroidism.
In our study a decrease in PTH levels of >70% after total or completion thyroidectomy is a reliable predictor for persistent hypoparathyroidism, and this should be confirmed in larger cohorts.